Oxfam spokesperson owned by SodaStream’s Daniel Birnbaum on BBC Newsnight

Back in the 60s, anti-war activists sometimes used the pejorative phrase “you have to burn the village to save it” to condemn US military tactics in Vietnam, to (unfairly) characterize the alleged destruction of North Vietnamese villages for the larger purpose of purging Viet Cong forces from the area.  

While such sloganeering was something of a specialty within the anti-war movement, that particular sentiment comes to mind when considering the mindless, destructive campaign by Oxfam, and like-minded pro-BDS groups, against the SodaStream factory in Mishor Adumim.

As you’ll see in the following clip of a segment on BBC’s Newsnight, which aired last night, Oxfam (an anti-poverty organization!) would evidently rather see 500 Palestinians fired from their jobs than tolerate the presence of a successful Israeli owned factory in Area C of the West Bank.  

Though there are some anti-settlement lies that go unchallenged during the debate, the hypocrisy and moral obtuseness of Oxfam and the broader anti-SodaStream movement is clearly revealed in the exchange between Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman, Oxfam’s Director of Policy Ben Phillips and SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum.

h/t Elder

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The Guardian, BBC and Mona Lisa’s Nose

A guest post by Joe Geary

Guess what this is?

mona

Did you get it? Well done, yes, it’s the Middle East as represented by large segments of the media, including the Guardian and BBC.

Well actually no. It’s Mona Lisa’s nose. But you get the picture, or rather, you don’t. You just get a tiny part of it.

There is a basic principle in the fields of semiotics and sociolinguistics, known as “framing”. It is well-known that the way a story is framed will influence how it is received by an audience.  It is equally uncontroversial that framings are not natural and preordained, that whoever is telling the story has a choice of various framings and the choice that is taken gives a significant insight into how we should evaluate both the story and the storyteller.

Returning to the original analogy, the problem with the Guardian-BBC coverage of the Middle East is that we don’t get a frame at all. We don’t even get much of the painting.

They make a conscious choice to remove as much context as possible to depict the Israel-Palestinian relationship, firstly, as entirely conflictual. Whenever do we hear of the many collaborative projects, or the Israeli aid work in the Territories or the health care available to Palestinians in Israeli hospitals? Secondly it is projected as the greatest conceivable imbalance. One side has all the power imaginable, the other side is utterly disempowered.

And thirdly, it is simplistically but seductively presented as white hat versus black hat, or rather, white race against black, or at least brown. The Israelis are depicted as Westerners and so metaphorically white (what a mutation – from swarthy Semites to Nordic Aryans in just two generations). Meanwhile the Palestinians, being Arabs, must be metaphorically a “brown” people. And so we are left with an ugly narrative of racial supremacism, provoking a delicious frisson of outrage among viewers and readers.

Finally, the relationship is stripped of all historical context. Cruel Goliath just woke up one day and decided to occupy and oppress his poor downtrodden neighbour. First of all, to steal his land and then, who knows, to drive him out completely. In this framing the Palestinian “cause” is quite simply freedom and any means of throwing off the oppressor’s yoke is justified, even the most violent.

But let’s try looking at the whole painting in its regional context. The Guardian-BBC could frame this Middle East conflict as that of a tiny country which has had to fight for its survival in three wars of aggression and has been subjected to 65 years of ferocious terrorism, but which miraculously continues to flourish as a democracy with full respect for the rule of law - and all this in a region brimming with violence, tyranny and hate. In this framing, we would require an exchange of hats. Israel is engaged in defensive resistance against enemies who wish to destroy her simply because she is different; she is democratic – dangerously contagious – she is modern and above all she is not Arab-Muslim. In this framing it is no longer clear quite who is the Goliath but it’s quite clear who is the bully and who the victim. And in an Arab Middle East where not only Jews but also the Kurds and Christians are all persecuted victims of Arab-Muslim rejectionism of the “other”, it becomes clear that it isn’t Israel who should be in the UN dock for apartheid racism.

Or we might try a third framing. The Palestinians and their cause are stoked and stroked and embraced by the big power players in the region, Iran, Syria, Turkey and the Gulf States, for the most cynical of self-serving reasons. Firstly, to bolster their soft-power prestige in the Arab world, and secondly to distract the internal populations from the humiliations they suffer at the hands of their rulers. The real Middle-Eastern conflict, as is now becoming clear, is between Shia-dominated Iran, plus its Syrian puppet, and the rest of the Sunni-dominated Arab world. The Palestinians are a very useful pawn in this game. And note that this support is never for a reasonable negotiated peace with Israel. Instead the Palestinians are spurred on to seek some improbable military victory in which Israel is brought to its knees or, better still, every last Jew is driven from the Middle East. Make no mistake, both Sunnis and Shias are happy to fight Israel to the last drop of Palestinian blood and the last thing they want to see is peace. This is a rather different Palestinian “cause” from the one sold daily by the BBC and Guardian.

But wait. I’m being unfair. We do sometimes see this:

mona

What’s this? Why yes it’s the Jewish lobby. The only part of the frame we’re regularly shown. How often are we told that US support for Israel is the result solely of the shadowy but immense power of US Jews and their piles of gold? It couldn’t possibly be that Israel is a democracy under the rule of law and that not supporting Israel would be a dereliction of every value the US professes to believe in. No, perish that thought.

And why do we never see this?

mona

Well done again. Yes, it’s the Arab lobby. The Saudi, the Qatari, the Emirates lobbies – now there is serious money – who not only work Washington lavishly and spend billions on US arms, but bribe media outlets with advertising income and fund universities throughout the West (the Gaddafi Foundation, remember that?) so that ubiquitous “Middle-Eastern studies” are properly pro-Arab and anti-Israel.

One last word on the land-stealing Goliath meme so popular with the BBC and Guardian. As so often documented on this blog, the vast majority of those evil settlements, aka “the obstacle to peace”, are actually built on land which in any reasonable future agreement would be part of land swaps and end up as part of Israel.

So, Guardian, BBC, in the future let’s see the whole picture in a proper frame. She’s famous for her enigmatic smile.

It’s probably because she “nose” what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

If this pun is too horrible then:

It’s probably because she’s sussed what you two deliberate simpletons are up to.

(Joe Geary is an Anglo-Irish author and academic and occasional contributor to the CiF Watch and BBC Watch blogs. With a professional background in sociolionguistics and political science and a special interest in the language of prejudice, he writes about the increasing demonization of Israel in parts of the mainstream British media.)

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A typical Guardian distortion about Ariel Sharon and Sabra/Shatila massacre

Cross posted from The Commentator with the expressed permission of their publisher, Robin Shepherd

There is obviously nothing funny about the 1982 massacre in Lebanon of hundreds of mainly Muslim Palestinians at the hands of an Arab Christian militia at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

But, since practically the entire world has blamed the incident on Israel and one Ariel Sharon, it is hard not to chuckle at the way he once characterised the situation following his removal as defence minister, not for carrying out the massacre of course, but for not doing enough to prevent a massacre carried out by others.

“I’m the only minister of defence in the world — the only one — who left his post and went back to work on a tractor, on his farm, as a result of what Christians did to Muslims. The only one.”

It’s so true, and so piercing because it cuts down to size the flat-out liars who have always blamed him for something he just didn’t do. It can even get as absurd as this nasty little lie slipped into today’s editorial in the Guardian, without question the most bigoted British newspaper when it comes to matters Israeli.

“In 1982, serving as defence minister, he allowed Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila, where they massacred more than 700 men, women and children. An Israeli government inquiry concluded that Mr Sharon bore personal responsibility for the incident,” the paper, which is the house journal of the BBC said.

The only way to make sense of this garbage is to conclude that Sharon must have ordered the Phalangists to do it — which obviously he didn’t — or that he was clairvoyant — which obviously he wasn’t; and knew in advance exactly what was going to happen.

The lie is doubled up with reference to the Israeli government report which simply says he was responsible for not doing enough to stop the incident, not that he actually bore responsibility for what took place. That’s why he and several others were held to have had a measure of indirectresponsibility, but not to have been responsible for the incident itself.

In other words, the truth is the exact opposite of what the Guardian says it is. And they know it.

The Guardian also knows that less than 1 percent of readers will drill down to get to the truth; and in spreading outright lies, a 99 percent success rate is good enough for them. It’s all done of course to discredit, by association, Israel as a whole, because mud sticks.

Oh, you don’t think mud sticks?

Let’s finish with a question or two. Everyone who has heard of Sabra and Shatila has heard of Ariel Sharon in relation to it. But how many people do you think know the names of the Phalangist leaders who actually commanded, led and carried out the massacre?

Do you know their names? Worth a thought isn’t it…?

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CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Dec.19-31: Guardian, BBC, Ma’ariv, Ha’aretz, Ynet

Our periodic round-up of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC Watch

Crude stereotyping of ‘expansionist’ Israelis in BBC 3 comedy showBBC guidelines permit national stereotyping “for comic effect” if there are “audience expectations”, but does BBC coverage of Israel in fact create such expectations? (BBC Watch)

BBC’s Knell amplifies UNRWA’s political campaigning on R4′s ‘The World Tonight’BBC reports on the recent flooding in Gaza cite “tight restrictions” on imports of fuel which do not exist . (BBC Watch)

CiF Watch

Guardian: Non-Jewish Israelis who live in settlements should not be called ‘settlers’According to the Guardian’s ‘Style Guide’, the term “settler” can only be used to characterize ‘Jewish’ Israelis who live beyond the green line. So, according to this logic, a Christian or Muslim citizen of Israel living in a “settlement” in the West Bank or “East” Jerusalem would NOT be considered a “settler”. (CiF Watch)

In Focus

Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg Pull Out of ASA Program in Response to BoycottASA takes a more extreme stance on Israel than the president of the Palestinian Authority. (in Focus)

Review of the Fall Semester 2013: Israel Awareness Week at the University of HoustonOver 70 students attend an event with Israel’s highest ranking Muslim diplomat during Israel Awareness Week at the University of Houston, organized with CAMERA’s help and support. (in Focus)

Event Held at the University of Miami Celebrates Gay Life in Israel: About 70 students attend event at the University of Miami to learn about the rights that Israel gives gays in Israel. (in Focus)

The Failures of Sam BahourJ-Street at Brandeis helps bring to campus a speaker that is against Israel’s existence, and that suggested that Israel is responsible for chemical weapon use in Syria. J-Street is part of Hillel on that campus. (in Focus)

CAMERA Helps Bring Jeff Jacoby to Florida: Jeff Jacoby connects Zionism to American history and covers the big lies - big truth phenomenon. Our Owls for Israel Board member at Florida Atlantic University writes about it. (in Focus)

Senior Campus Coordinator at CAMERA Writes to Hampshire College President, Calling on Him to Condemn the ASA BoycottRead her well written letter here. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Gil Magen at Ohio State University Photography Under Fire event draws in many people, including adults over age 50, students from a diverse number of academic department such as Middle East Studies, photography, sociology, political science and others. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Sgt. Benjamin Anthony at George MasonAbout 70 students attend event designed to decrease apathy and increase awareness of Israel. Students involved in Greek life, students enrolled in ROTC and others learn about what drove Benjamin Anthony to leave all he knew in his native U.K. and enlist in the IDF. (in Focus)

Professor Rotella, Director of the American Studies Program at Boston College, Speaks Out Against the ASA Boycott of IsraelRead his letter here. So far 55 institutions have condemned the ASA boycott. (in Focus)

CAMERA

The Samer Issawi TestReleased Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is an important test case for journalists. His hunger strike continues to garner news coverage. His conviction for multiple attempts of murder, not so much. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts NY Times Correction on Gaza Shortages, ‘Palestinian’ CitiesCAMERA prompts a New York Times correction after the newspaper claimed Israeli cities are “Palestinian,” blamed Israel for water, gas and electricity shortages in Gaza. (CAMERA)

At end of 2013, Ha’aretz Drops Ball on Depo-Provera StoryIn an end of the year round up of most read articles, Ha’aretz drops the ball on the Ethiopian contraception story, repeating errors that the very same news outlet corrected back in March. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts Corrections on Ethiopians’ ContraceptionMonths after CAMERA’s Israel office prompted Ha’aretz to correct coverage about Depo Provera injections for Ethiopian women, the media watchdog sets off another round of corrections at the Israeli news outlet. (CAMERA)

In Jordan Valley, Ha’aretz LostA Ha’aretz photo caption wrongly states that Israel “had voted to extend Israeli law over parts of the Jordan Valley,” even though the original AP caption correctly identified the proposed legislation in question as “a proposed Israeli bill.” (Snapshots)

Presspectiva

Ma’ariv’s Misplaced RageThe cause of a demonstration seems to baffle Ma’ariv (Presspectiva)

Is Israel’s Christian Population Really Declining?A nasty Independent Op-Ed repeats a modern day slander (Presspectiva)

Ma’ariv and Makor Rishon Greatly Over report European antisemitismA report on a new poll on European antisemitism manages to cite every figure wrong. (Presspectiva)

The Reemergence of the Green LineHa’aretz’s updated style guide, no longer encourages translators to avoid using the term “The Green Line”. (Presspectiva)

Who Needs To Check Facts If You Can Read Ynet?A scathing op-ed in the “7th eye” against the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was completely based on an error published in Ynet (Presspectiva)

ReVista de Medio Oriente

Who condemns Palestinian terrorism?: In the Spanish-speaking press, very few voices were given space to condemn the attack to the 240 bus line near Tel Aviv, while only a handful of papers actually published news about the incident. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish-speaking press: These are the weekly highlights about Israel and the Middle East in the Latin American and Spanish press. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Guess which British journalist re-tweeted Gilad Atzmon?

Say you’re a British Jew and work professionally as a journalist.

And, though you are highly critical of both Israel and many Jews, you still fancy yourself a progressive and anti-racist.  Indeed, you are buoyed by the fact that a mainstream “enlightened” British newspaper continues to publish your commentaries about Israel.

Again, supposing that you were such a “progressive”, ‘independent’ Jewish voice, what would your response be to an article written by Gilad Atzmon, an extremist who has advanced the following arguments?

  • Jews stifle debate about the scope of the Holocaust.
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a prophetic document which accurately characterizes (and predicts) Jewish behavior.

You would completely distance yourself from the views of such an extreme racist, wouldn’t you?  Further, you would emphatically denounce his views at every opportunity, right?

Well, there is one British Jew (who contributes to the London Evening Standard and the Independent) claiming the mantle of anti-racism who, when encountering the commentary of Mr. Atzmon decided to tacitly endorse it.

retweet

If you’re entertaining the notion that Bar-Hillel’s re-tweet of Atzmon did not in fact ‘imply endorsement’, consider that Atzmon’s post (The Milibands, The BBC and The Proloteriat, Oct. 13) included passages which are quite consistent with Bar-Hillel’s own complaints about the stifling of debate about Israel.

Atzmon’s post, which Bar-Hillel re-tweeted, included the following:

Now, is this a legitimate concern or, is socialism, like Jewishness, beyond any criticism or scrutiny?

Of course this is a rhetorical question. Apparently in Britain 2013, any attempt to question the intellectual foundations, history and meaning behind Marxism and socialist thinking is reduced simply to ‘antisemitism’. So, it looks like Marxism and cosmopolitanism, like Jewishness and Israeli racism, have been merged into one vague entity removed from our public discourse, let alone criticism.  

Now, here’s Bar-Hillel in an interview published in Haaretz:

Any criticism of the policies of Israel…is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash

Also of note, this was not a one-off between Atzmon and Bar-Hillel, as you can see in this ‘enlightened’ exchange in September:

tweet convo

One of the most common deceits advanced by many Jewish critics of Israel is that, though they may demonize Israel and even reduce its Jewish citizens to grotesque caricatures, they are nonetheless passionately opposed to “real” antisemitism.

Though there are some Jewish critics of Israel who can credibly claim to walk such a moral tightrope, Bar-Hillel’s decision to engage (and legitimize) a vile neo-Nazi style anti-Semite like Gilad Atzmon demonstrates that she can no longer fancy herself a principled anti-Zionist and a principled anti-racist.  

Her tolerance towards one of the most repugnant promoters of Jew hatred should, at the very least, disqualify her from contributing to any publication which takes its moral reputation seriously

CAMERA sites monitor media coverage of Israel, Nov. 20-26: Guardian, BBC, NYT, Ynet, Europa Press

Our regular round up of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

Brooklyn College Hosts Ben White’s Lecture on ‘Israeli Apartheid’Anti-Israel activist Ben White was invited to speak at Brooklyn College by the college’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Event is co-sponsored by two college departments. (in Focus)

SFSU President Condemns Campus Event With Slogan “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers”San Francisco State University President Les Wong publicly condemned this week an event held on campus in which students created posters that read, “My heroes have always killed colonizers.” The posters were displayed in the campus square, and were created as part of a larger event celebrating Edward Said, according to AMCHA. The event was organized by the General Union of Palestinian Students . (in Focus)

Where’s the coverage? With the exception of two media, Spanish press did not cover the murder of the young Israeli Eden Atias at the hands of a Palestinian. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The order of the factors alters the product Europa Press not only ignored the murder of Eden Atias, but used the incident as a pretext to insist portraying once again the Palestinians as “victims”. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Impartiality: Europa Press offers 367 words to the Palestinian version and only 27 to the Israeli. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Pattern: A brief review of the coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict of Europe Press shows a very striking pattern: the agency appears to officiate as a spokesman for Hamas. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?: Censorship on the press by the Palestinian Authority is silenced by Spanish-speaking media (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

A Return to Bias: Our CAMERA Fellow at Concordia writes in her Op-Ed that “Israel was the only specific country on the agenda when the United Nations met on September 10, 2013. At this time the world was praying for the victims of chemical weaponry in Syria. The UN made no specific or emergency condemnation of Syria at the time. It took a backseat to the permanent agenda article against the Jewish State. The executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer noted that day that the same amount of time was allotted to Israel as was committed to the rest of the world. (In Focus)

The Scary World of Uri MisgavUri Misgav’s column is analysed applying the same psychoanalytic method he applies to others. (Presspectiva)

The New York Times Admits Its ErrorThe New York Times publishes an apology for illustrating a shocking terror attack, with a picture of the terrorist’s mother (Presspectiva)

That renowned BBC accuracy and impartialityBBC’s man in Gaza invents an Israeli air raid. (BBC Watch)

BBC misrepresentation of Israel’s stance on Iran talks continues in Kim Ghattas report: The BBC’s State Department correspondent was the latest to misinform audiences about Israel’s stance on P5+1 deal. (BBC Watch)

Arab Israeli Citizen Shares Minority Experience with SF State: CAMERA on Campus Is In the News! This article was written by Guadalupe González and was printed in the Golden Gate Xpress on October 29, 2013. (In Focus)

Evidently, some Palestinian prisoners don’t evoke Harriet Sherwood’s sympathySympathetic portrayals of Palestinian terrorists serving sentences in Israeli jails are something of a specialty for the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, yet she seems strangely unmoved when Palestinians are imprisoned (and often tortured) in Arab countries. (CiF Watch)

Napoleon, Ben Gurion and the Jewish StateWas Napoleon a harbinger of Zionism? (Presspectiva)

Tel Aviv, Israel’s Eternal CapitalWhy the foreign media keeps claiming that Tel Aviv is the capital city of Israel. (Presspectiva)

We Must Take Ownership of Our Own Humanity: Eliot Hamilton of our CCAP group Claremont Colleges for Israel: “I have found that if I mention of the State of Israel, someone will not respectfully disagree with me, but will get angry with me personally for supporting something that they see as flawed. I did not expect to be disrespected so vehemently, or to experience such hatred. . .” (In Focus)

CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel in 3 languages, Nov. 5: Guardian, BBC, El Pais, NYT & Haaretz

Our regular roundup of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC report on building tenders presented in one-sided political terminology
The BBC embraces the politically motivated terminology used by the Palestinian Authority and fringe groups of radical anti-Israel campaigners in a report on construction plans in Jerusalem suburb. (BBC Watch)

BBC coverage of prisoner release in pictures
The imbalance in BBC coverage of the recent release of convicted Palestinian terrorists is reflected even in the images selected to illustrate reports. (BBC Watch)

Guardian columnist compares Israel to an autistic child
Guardian columnist Giles Fraser evokes the refrain that ‘Israel doesn’t play well with others’ by advancing a bizarre analogy between the ‘stubborn’ Jewish state and a cognitively underdeveloped child. (CiF Watch)

CSUN Stands Back as Professor Klein Uses University Resources to Promote Israel Boycott
California State University Northridge fails to remove Professor Klein’s webpage, posted on the university server, that promotes the boycott of Israel. (in Focus)

Recap of Dr. Anat Berko’s Campus Tour
Anat Berko just recently completed her October campus tour, visiting ten campuses that stretched from Florida to Ohio. (in Focus)

Students at ORT University in Uruguay Attend Lecture Given by Professor Jack Drassinover
CAMERA’s first Fellow in Uruguay organizes an event about Israel on his campus. (in Focus)

Lost in the Israeli geography 
European TV channel Euronews continues to believe that the capital of the Jewish State is Tel Aviv. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Argumentative illusionism 
An op-ed by ReVista published in the Argentinean newspaper Clarín. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Answering Marcelo JelenE 
Article by Ilan Bajarlia, Ort University of Uruguay CAMERA Fellow. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

University of Pittsburgh Hosts Barak Barfi 
At CAMERA supported event, Barak Barfi Discussed Endangered Minorities in the Arab Spring (in Focus)

CAMERA Presents: Dr. Anat Berko at Tulane University
Students learn about terrorism in the Middle East, through sociological psychological lenses at a CAMERA supported event. (in Focus)

El Pais publishes a letter from ReVista de Medio Oriente
The letter was sent to the Spanish newspaper as a response to a couple of articles with several inaccuracies. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Always Human Error? 
Presspectiva responds to Haaretz blog post explaining away the “Rihanna incident” (Presspectiva)

Zionism and Religion
Are the two contradictory? (Presspectiva)

The New York Times, Haaretz and Maariv – An Empirical Experiment
Within 48 hours three papers made the same mistake. Who published a correction? (Presspectiva)

Hassidim, Soya and Dubious Sources
A viral story about Gur Hassidim was based on some rather dubious evidence. (Presspectiva)

Guardian ‘inadvertently’ acknowledges that the Western Wall is NOT Judaism’s holiest site

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood) is the holiest site in Judaism.  The Western Wall, on the other hand, is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray – an uncontroversial, firmly established fact we leveraged to prompt a correction to a story at The Telegraph on Oct. 24 which falsely claimed that the Western Wall was the holiest site.  

Other news sites which have corrected their original false claims over the significance of the Western Wall include the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC (corrections which were prompted over the years by CAMERA).

In contrast to these corrections, however, the Guardian has engaged in characteristic obfuscations and stonewalling in refusing to revise Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.  Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism

So, we were quite surprised to see the following caption accompanying a Guardian photo of a member of ‘Women of the Wall’ praying at the Western Wall (10 Photo Highlights of the Day, Nov. 4).

kotel

Whilst this is of course merely a photo caption, Guardian editors have, on occasion, revised such accurate descriptive text below their photos when they believed it to be misleading.  So we’ll continue to monitor this entry and see whether this inadvertent collision with accuracy is eventually ‘rectified’. 

Revealed: How Richard Silverstein was duped again by a phony “source”

RS Iran conference by cliff wells

Richard Silverstein

When blogger Richard Silverstein isn’t expressing support for the end of the Jewish statedefending terror groups like Hamas, or engaging in smears and reckless attacks against his opponents, he’s often busy peddling false “scoops based on little or no evidence.  

These “scoops” by Silverstein (who’s an occasional contributor to ‘Comment is Free’) at a blog he calls ‘Tikun Olam’, have at times been cited by the BBC, Der Spiegel, The Daily Telegraph, and the New York Times.

To cite one example of Silverstein’s less than rigorous fact-checking, the BBC (in August, 2012) was among the news sites duped by a Silverstein “scoop” titled “Bibi’s Secret War Plan”.

bibi

His post claimed to be based on information from a high-level Israeli source detailing an upcoming Israeli attack on Iran.  

However, the “secret document” he had “obtained” was a near verbatim quote from a Hebrew web forum entry which had appeared online days before his post, and which itself was based on mere speculation from open-source information.

Another example of a faux scoop was revealed on Feb. 13, 2013, when Silverstein reported about the identity of a prisoner (previously known as Prisoner X) who was being held in an Israeli jail and later committed suicide.  Silverstein’s 2013 post – reporting that the mystery prisoner was an Australian-Israeli Mossad agent named Ben Zygier - proved that his original Dec. 2010 “scoop”, alleging that a secret prisoner was a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard general named Ali-Reza Asgariwas completely false.

iranian

Now, for the latest:

A few days ago, we were contacted by an Israeli who’s aware of Silverstein’s penchant for publishing “scoops” based on little or no research or fact-checking.  He explained how he recently fed Silverstein completely made-up stories, selling them as “scoops”, to see if he would bite.  Here’s one of the emails (a snapshot we were provided of the original) our source sent to Silverstein on Oct. 9, purporting to have secret information on news regarding the Israeli drone which crashed on Oct. 8.

email 1

That same day, Silverstein reported the following, quoting verbatim his “anonymous Israeli source” in a post titled “Israeli Drones Fallin’ from the Skies Like Flies: Third UAV Sabotaged by Hacking.”

The UAV didn’t crash, the UAV control center lost communication due to heavy interference in the COM link. After few very long minutes at which the re establish comm procedure failed, the CCC (control center commander) ordered the self-destruction of the UAV. There was lots of drama as it appeared the UAV had a mind of its own or that someone gained positive control.

Then, on Oct. 13 the Israeli “source” sent him the following concocted tale, purporting to represent secret information on another Israeli drone failure.

pic

And, two days later, in a post titled Iran Hacks Azerbaijan’s Israeli-Made Drone Fleet‘, Silverstein wrote that his “Israeli source” revealed that “the Iranians have hacked Azerbaijan’s Israeli-made drone fleet as well.” Silverstein then quoted directly from the email he received:

Using [a nearly identical drone] to the fallen Hermes 450, several months ago IAF…drones also failed in Azerbaijan.  [They were] using the Azery Hermes control units with some temporary modifications [paralleling those of] Israeli drones signals.  The training exercise failed after similar concerns of successful Iranian penetration were raised.

Again, Silverstein immediately published completely fabricated information. 

Well, evidently, shortly after these two posts, he was being ridiculed on the Israeli forum Fresh’, and finally realized he had no choice but to admit that he published erroneous information.  In a post titled The Art of the con’, Silverstein wrote:

After the latest crash, I received an anonymous e-mail from someone purporting to be an insider who knew about the crashes and the reasons for them

This is extremely misleading. The ‘source’ didn’t establish his credentials.

The Israeli security forum, Fresh, began to post material about the story with a link to my post.  At a later point, a forum Admin posted a notice that I had received an e-mail from a source they knew and they predicted what the message said and what I would write in my post.  If I had seen that Fresh posting I would’ve known of the fraud earlier and stopped using this source.

Again, you have to wonder why Silverstein even considered this anonymous person to be a “source” in the first place.

my earlier reporting on Israeli drone failures derives from a trusted source, as I noted.  In order to dampen the potential for scandal of a major military system facing repeated failures, the IAF or others involved with Israeli intelligence wanted to discredit those reports.  That would mean any subsequent reporting by me or others on this theme would be immediately brought into question.  It would also tend to discredit any future reporting I did on any subject involving Israeli national security or intelligence.

This being said, this has taught me lessons and also ‘enriched’ my view of Israel’s intelligence apparatus and its methods.  First, no stories will be published here from anonymous sources.  

He then tries to turn it around, and place the blame on Israelis.

Readers ought to give some thought to why Israelis feel the need to perpetrate hoaxes.  They need to put up a smokescreen that conceals truths that are perceived as damaging to Israeli interests.  One of the ways they deem effective is to engage in deception that discredits an enemy.  But the use of deception on as wide a scale as Israel uses officially, forces outsiders to discount anything they hear from such sources.

First, the suggestion that this particular hoax was orchestrated by Israeli officials is comical. Silverstein’s “source” in the stories he cited didn’t even attempt to establish his security credentials, nor did he explain how the “inside information” was obtained in the first place.

Moreover, it should be noted that CiF Watch, as with other blogs and news sites, similarly receives emails from readers claiming they have inside information.  However, as we take our mission and our credibility seriously, we don’t simply copy and paste text from anonymous emails into blog posts and legitimize the information as a “scoop” by a “secret source” without first meticulously corroborating the claim.

Richard Silverstein not only devotes his blog to smearing the Jewish state – while defending even the most openly malevolent extremists – but routinely spreads wild claims and, at times, false information under the veneer of promoting “liberal” values and social justice.

tikkun

Silverstein’s blog is called “Tikun Olam”, which translates to: “To heal or repair the world”

The strange phenomenon of mainstream media sites taking Silverstein’s rumor mill seriously was best summed up by the following cheeky Twitterer back when the BBC cited Silverstein’s “scoop” about Israel’s “secret” Iran attack plans.

Of course, at least the crazy guys on the corner with a sandwich board don’t typically claim to be ‘serious journalists’ dedicated to promoting truth, justice and Jewish values.

Tripod: CAMERA links in 3 languages, Sept. 1-9. BBC Watch, Presspectiva, In Focus and ReVista

Our regular roundup of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

Sept. 4-9

Toned down BBC reporting on Iranian, Syrian threats against Israel
Despite its intensive coverage of the Syria crisis, the BBC is barely reporting threats against Israel coming out of Tehran and Damascus. (BBC Watch)

Filmed reports on the BBC News website’s Middle East page in August
Over half the Israel-related filmed reports appearing on the BBC News website during August promoted the theme of Israeli building as an obstacle to peace . (BBC Watch)

Our CCAP groups are starting the new year tabling on campus
Scroll down to see photos. (In Focus)

Parallel Manual of Style
The Spanish news agency Europa Press Israeli police raids are “reprisals” instead of operations to find those responsible for a crime or an offense. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Anti-Israel Professors at Northeastern
Students are studying in a biased and anti-Israel climate created by their professors. A new documentary is coming out soon exploring this issue. (In Focus)

Ma’ariv Proves It Can Be Haaretz
Maariv gives a one-sided (and erroneous) summary of the case of fire zone 918 (Presspectiva)

Middle East in the Spanish speaking press
The press points out the possibility of a chemical attack from Syria to Israel but, at the same time, emphasizes Syria’s decision to deliver their chemical arsenal to the UN. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The Guardian again promotes myth that Ariel Sharon started 2nd Intifada
One of the more common false narratives regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict advanced by the Guardian is that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2001 “sparked” the 2nd Intifada – a lie repeated so often that casual observers could be forgiven for believing it.. (CiF Watch)

Sept. 1-4

BBC defence correspondent: Al Kibar was a ‘suspected’ nuclear facility
The International Atomic Energy Agency says it was. US intelligence says it was. The BBC, however, is apparently not convinced. (BBC Watch)

BBC ESC: ‘lack of due accuracy’ on Davies Tweet from Operation Pillar of Cloud
Twitter – being fast-moving ‘instant’ messaging and cutting out the editorial ‘middle-man’ between the journalist and the public – is particularly susceptible to breaches of BBC editorial guidelines. (BBC Watch)

Robert Fisk finds Zionist smoking gun in likely U.S. attack against Syria
Before the U.S. has launched even one cruise missile against Syria in response to the regime’s use of deadly chemical weapons, the Indy’s Robert Fisk has already concluded that such an attack would be motivated by Zionist interests. (CiF Watch)

Haaretz Translators Are Back in the Habit
A Haaretz mistranslation turns a visiting Syrian nun from an Israeli fan to an Israeli critic (Presspectiva)

Lets Try Sticking To Facts
Haaretz op-ed falsely claims Netanyahu has never condemned racially motivated violence. (Presspectiva)

Palestinians Support Caterpillar
The BDS campaign calls for boycotting companies such as Caterpillar, while Caterpillar dealerships do business in Gaza and Ramallah. (In Focus)

Middle East in the Spanish speaking press
The press points out that “all the alarms” have been started in the region due to Israel’s military exercise, but not because of Syria’s internal turmoil. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

 

Tripod: CAMERA links in 3 languages, Aug. 29-30: BBC Watch, Presspectiva, In Focus, and Revista

Our regular roundup of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC R2 promotes and mainstreams anti-Israel Greenbelt Festival
A BBC live broadcast from the recent ‘Greenbelt Festival’ avoided all mention of its anti-Israel campaigning agenda. (BBC Watch)

BBC presentation of Israeli view on Syria intervention replete with inaccuracies
Saddam Hussein only attacked Tel Aviv; Israelis have to buy gas masks – just two of the inaccuracies in a three paragraph BBC presentation of Israel’s view of intervention in Syria. (BBC Watch)

EFE: impartiality, credibility and immediacy
The Spanish wire agency has difficulties offering a complete account of an event, devoid of opinion. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Reflections on Interning with the CAMERA Campus Department
Life as an intern at CAMERA. (In Focus)

CAMERA Fellow Published in Tulane Paper
Ben Kravis writes that one can be a passionate pro-Israel activist and be pro-Palestinian. (In Focus)

Farewell to Journalism
Spanish news agency Europa Press bids farewell to journalism, and promotes pro-Palestinian activism. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The lies of George Galloway
British MP George Galloway advanced a bizarre anti-Israel conspiracy theory on Iranian TV regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and then, when challenged on it in the House of Commons, flatly lied about it. (CiF Watch)

Contrary to suggestion by Indy’s Alistair Dawber, Jon Bon Jovi does NOT support BDS

A story in The Independent written by their Jerusalem correspondent Alistair Dawber on the recent cancellation of a previously scheduled performance in Israel by Eric Burdon (frontman for the rock band The Animals) due, according to his manager, to death threats Burdon was receiving from BDS activists, included this passage:

The issue of artists giving performances in Israel is controversial. In recent years, Jon Bon Jovi and the South African band Ladysmith Black Mambazo have cancelled concerts in support of the BDS – or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – movement.

So, it is true that the popular American rocker Jon Bon Jovi cancelled concerts in Israel due to BDS?

Well, as Aussie Dave at the blog Israellycool reported recently, back in 2010 Bon Jovi indicated the band was going to be performing in Israel as part of their 2011 world tour, an announcement which garnered the attention of BDS activists, who had of course urged him to cancel.  Later, for reasons which were never made clear, the tentatively scheduled performance was cancelled, and the BDS crowd claimed victory.

However, Aussie Dave posted a video of Bon Jovi being interviewed on the BBC earlier this year, prior to a live performance on BBC Radio, which includes a comment that contradicts claims of the boycott proponents.  We’ve cut the longer video down to the 20 seconds relevant to the question at hand.

Listen carefully to the answer Bon Jovi gives to the BBC’s Jo Whiley:

So, unprompted, Bon Jovi clearly stated his desire to perform in the Jewish state.

What this means, other than a BDS Fail of course, is that the Indy reporter (who will soon become the paper’s foreign editor) should try fact checking instead of relying on the routinely inaccurate claims of BDS activists.  

Guardian misrepresents Israel’s public security minister on ‘secret prisoners’

In February we commented on the Guardian’s obsessive coverage of the ‘Prisoner X’ case – a story concerning a Mossad agent, named Ben Zygier, facing lengthy prison sentence for leaking highly classified information who committed suicide in Israel’s Ayalon Prison.  

More recently, it was revealed that a second anonymous security prisoner was held at the same time that Zygier took his own life in the facility’s cell 15.

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood opens her report on the new ‘revelation’ (Israel admits holding second secret prisoner, July 11th), thus:

“Israel is holding a second unidentified security prisoner in conditions of extreme secrecy, according to court documents released this week in relation to Prisoner X, the Australian-Israeli secret agent who hanged himself in jail in 2010 and whose case caused a sensation when it was exposed earlier this year.

The existence of another top-secret prisoner was acknowledged in the Israeli parliament on Wednesday, although no details were disclosed.

But former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman described it as “an exceptionally grave case”, and the lawyer for Ben Zygier, who was dubbed Prisoner X when details of his case were revealed in February, said the second prisoner’s alleged offences were “sensational”.

Israel insisted it was acting within the law in regard to secret prisoners held in isolation and whose identity is concealed even from prison guards.

The existence of “Prisoner X2″ was revealed in an appendix to a document released by the justice ministry on the circumstances of Zygier’s death.”

Sherwood then pivots to statements made earlier about such secret prisoners by Israel’s public security minister:

“The public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, denied that he had lied when he said in the aftermath of disclosures about Zygier that there were no other secret prisoners in Israeli jails.”

So, did Minister Aharonovitch in fact say that there were no other “secret prisoners” as Knell claims? 

Well, as Hadar Sela at BBC Watch noted in a post about similar claims made by the BBC’s Yolande Knell, Aharonovitch did not in fact say that there were no other “secret prisoners” in Israel.   The following is an English translation (by Sela) from a video embedded in this Hebrew article in which the Minister reads his own words verbatim from the minutes of the Knesset meeting of February 20th, 2013 to clarify what he said regarding such secret prisoners:

“In the State of Israel there are no nameless and disappeared prisoners. In the State of Israel there is no conduct in the shadows. In the State of Israel there is appropriate legal supervision and guidance and there is also concern for the security of the State of Israel: concern which in order to take care of it, sometimes it is [necessary] to operate in great secrecy.”

Aharonovitch clarifies the point:

“Indeed in the State of Israel there are no prisoners who disappear and their families do not know of their arrest. There are also no prisoners who disappear and the judicial authorities, the advocate and the courts do not take care of their affairs.”

Contrary to Sherwood’s claim, Aharonovitch did not say that there were no other “secret prisoners in Israeli jails”, but that there are no “nameless” and “disappeared” prisoners as there are in tyrannical countries without judicial checks and balances.  The personal information on some security prisoners is sometimes not released to the media, but such prisoners are not – as Aharonovitch noted – “hidden” from the judicial system or the courts, nor denied proper legal counsel.  Further, Israelis’ elected representatives – members of the Knesset committee for security and foreign affairs – are also fully informed about the details of such top security prisoners.

As much as the Guardian has tried to spin the initial row over such ‘secret’ prisoners as emblematic of the Jewish state’s illiberal nature, the evidence shows that even those Israeli prisoners guilty of gravest national security crimes are afforded the rights of due process to a degree fully consistent with democratic norms.

Is James Harding’s religion relevant when reporting on his new position at the BBC?

Lisa O’Carroll’s April 16 story in the Guardian reports on the appointment of James Harding (former Times editor) as the BBC’s new director of news and current affairs.

harding

O’Carroll’s report includes the following passages:

Some of the Times’s anti-BBC leader columns may also come back to haunt Harding in his new job. In 2010, when hostilities between Murdoch and the BBC were at their height over the News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB, Harding ran an editorial accusing the corporation’s then director general Mark Thompson of “seeking to gain commercial advantages in league with News Corp’s rivals”.

Harding, who is Jewish, will also have to leave behind the pro-Israeli line of the Times. In a debate at the Jewish Community Centre For London in 2011, Harding said “I am pro-Israel” and that in reporting on the Middle East, “I haven’t found it too hard” because “the Times has been pro-Israel for a long time”. However, he also stressed the need for balanced news reporting and said he was also in favour of a Palestinian state.

The ‘Editor’s Code of Practice‘ (published by the Press Complaints Commissionthe ‘independent’ regulatory body in the UK) which all editors and publishers in the UK are required to abide by, contains the following warning in their section on ‘discrimination’:

Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Whilst O’Carroll’s contention that Harding will have to leave his ‘pro-Israeli line’ behind now that he’s been appointed news director of the BBC is quite interesting in the context of the Beeb’s coverage of Israel and the Middle East, two particular questions come to mind:

Does O’Carroll’s decision to note that Harding is Jewish in the particular passage cited indicate she has already concluded that his religious affiliation is relevant in that it explains his ‘pro-Israeli’ views?  

If that is not what O’Carroll is suggesting, in what other way, per the language in the PCC Editor’s Code, is Harding’s religion relevant to a story about his new position at the BBC?

CiF Watch prompts correction at ‘The Independent’ to Omar Misharawi story

correctionsOn March 13, we posted a round-up of how the major British papers responded to new revelations regarding the death of Omar Misharawi (the 11-month old son of journalist Jihad Mishrawi) during the Gaza war.

Misharawi’s death was widely attributed to an Israeli missile, but a recent UN report demonstrated that the boy was most likely killed by an errant Palestinian rocket.

We reviewed the Guardian, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Spectator, The Sun, The Times and The Independent.

Since that post, we’ve been in contact with the papers which hadn’t already published a retraction (or a new story) based on the recent news about Misharawi’s death, and, as a result of our communication with The Independent (as well as emails by a concerned reader) they’ve added additional text to their Nov. 15 report by Amol Rajan, ‘11-month old son of BBC picture editor is killed in Gaza‘.

The report, which had originally attributed the boy’s death to Israeli fire, now includes the following before the opening passage of the report:

A report of 6 March by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that the death of Omar Masharawi was the result of “what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel” .

Additionally, shortly after our correspondence with the Daily Mail over their Nov. 15 report on the death of Misharawi, which similarly blamed Israel for the boy’s death, they added the following bullet above the text:

The BBC Arabic employee’s son Omar was killed in Gaza by an airstrike, probably a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel

We appreciate the prompt response by editors at both The Indy and Daily Mail.

Of the papers we reviewed, The SunThe Telegraph, and The Times  haven’t, thus far, issued a retraction or published a new story in light of the new information.